Whether you’re throwing a garden party for a bridal or baby shower, or having high tea with the Queen herself, these vegan cookies are sure to be a hit.
These shortbread cookies are fun because they seem a little fancy, but with the wild foraged flowers, they also appeal to my inner crunchy hippie. All of these flowers are from my tiny urban greenscape yard, but you could find wild flowers along a hike through the woods, or in your cooler section at Whole Food. We all have our process, man.
How to Make Vegan Shortbread Wildflower Cookies
The cookie dough:
Cream vegan butter and choice of granulated sweetener together in a bowl with a hand mixer or in a food processor. I used monk fruit sweetener for these, which has a 1:1 replacement ratio for sugar, but traditional granulated sugar, or even stevia, will work.
Slowly mix in flour and applesauce. The applesauce is to cut down on saturated fat and sodium; if you do not have applesauce, you may use only vegan butter. In that case, substitute 1 1/4 cup butter in total, and don’t feel bad because vegan butter has waaaaay less saturated fat than dairy butter anyway. Pip pip to that! Sorry, I really don’t know why these cookies make me feel like I have to speak with a British accent.
Add in lemon juice, and lemon zest. If you’re not sure how to zest a lemon, you can use a cheese grater to take a few slivers off, which give your cookies a tart lemony flavor. No cheese grater? Use a peeler or knife to remove a little bit of the lemon peel, and dice extra finely with a sharp knife until the pieces are the size of pencil points.
After you’ve mixed until thoroughly combined, transfer the dough to a glass container with a lid and refrigerate for at least one hour up to 24 hours. This is important because if the cookie dough doesn’t refrigerate, they won’t hold their shape when you cut them. If you’re going for a very free form organic shape, you can skip this step, but I don’t recommend it.
Cutting the Cookies Into Shape
Preheat oven to 350°. Remove the shortbread cookie dough from the lidded container, and use a rolling pin to roll out on a nonstick surface, such as a silicone pastry mat or wax paper. I roll out to about 1/4-1/3” thick.
You can try doing these right on the counter if you have a nonstick surface like quartz or marble, but if you add extra flour, they will likely get a little tough and dense. When rolling, you can back the rolling pin against the dough to form it into a more even square shape for smoother edged.
Cut lengthwise and across to form rectangles about 3″ by 4″ big. Scoop scraps of dough up and ball, then re-roll to finish making rectangles with leftover dough. Extras can be rolled into tiny balls, and pressed with a thumb, then filled with jam for easy thumbprint cookies if you’d like to use up extra jam you have lying around.
Transfer to a cookie sheet, and then bake at 350° for 20 minutes if rolled thick, 18 minutes if dough is thinner. The trick to know when your cookies are done, is to notice when the bottom of the cookie turn a golden brown, and yank them from the oven right then. Remove from oven and let cook on cookie sheet; this is important because the cookies actually finish baking in the moment or two they first come out of the oven if left on the sheet. This guarantees a perfect cookie every time.
Frosting & Flowers
When your shortbread cookies have cooled completely, you can start to prepare the frosting. Mix all ingredients, except for nondairy milk in a bowl with a hand mixer. If needed, add in 1-2 drops of milk at a time until desired consistency is reached.
Spread onto cookies using a butter knife. While frosting is still wet, sprinkle (and press on if needed) a variety of wildflowers or petals. I used Dandelion, Creeping Charlie, Violet, and Allium, which is a wild ornamental onion, but you can check out my list below if you want to check some of the flowers growing in your area.
Edible Flower List
If you’re looking for an edible flower list to help you figure out which spring time flowers you can eat, I recommend checking out West Coast Seeds list here. It has all kinds of edible flowers, along with pictures of many to help if you’re foraging. A few others that grow in my yard, and that I use for cooking or baking quite regularly, include:
Chives – these beauties are in the onion family, so all applications give your food a great slightly onion-y note. My chives made the biggest, most gorgeous purple blooms this year, and I couldn’t wait to dig in. Obviously they’re great sprinkled raw on soups or salads, but I also love to bake them into bread because everything can use more onion flavor in my opinion.
Hyssop – takes similar to black licorice or anise. It’s good for cocktails or cookies.
Roses – very floral tasting, and perfect for baked goods like baklava, and even to top smoothies.
Begonia – slightly citrus flavored, awesome to top smoothies or cookies. It’s turning out I think flowers should go on most cookies, hmm.
Calendula – semi peppery. Did you know calendulas are in the marigold family? That means you can also take a few petals off of your marigold plants and sprinkle over dinners for a little spiciness. I like edible flowers like that on Buddha Bowls.
Chamomile – obviously good in tea, but is also a great addition to salads and soups.
You can swap in whatever flowers are available to you. Easy ones to find are marigolds since they’re in bloom all summer and do really well in patio pots.
As noted above, you can swap out sugar in lieu of monk fruit sweetener or stevia. You can also sub in 3/4 the amount of powdered sugar for slightly fluffier cookies.
Flavor the frosting if you like. You can put a drop or two of lemon extract, or sub lemon juice instead of the milk.
You can also opt to bake these with the flowers directly on the shortbread dough, and then dust with powdered sugar after baking instead of going the frosting route.
As I mentioned, these are so good for tea time. Is there a more classic combination than hot tea and shortbread cookies? I also used them as part of a dessert board that offered mini cinnamon rolls and lemon curd coffee crumb cake.